New eatery owes its roots to Scotch Plains community; Park Ave. restaurant combines classic American favorites with Irish influence

by Ryan Romaine
A new restaurant opened on Park Avenue in downtown Scotch Plains in September that is destined to be a landmark. Darby Road, a restaurant in the style of an Irish Pub that serves a combination of classic Irish and American cuisine, has a contemporary décor complete with touches of Irish charm.
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The Darby Road experience begins with an entryway that resembles an old Irish phone booth, just one of the many ways Darby Road relates to Irish heritage.  The walls are adorned with scarves from popular European soccer teams.  The restaurant’s dim lighting, provided by hanging bulbs over the hardwood bar, evokes the ambiance of an old tavern.
The menu, featuring choices from potato leek soup to a typical American cheeseburger, is unique in appearance as well as content.  Resembling an old newspaper, it contains images depicting the history of Scotch Plains as well as current town news and events, a testament to the town spirit that led to the restaurant’s creation.
All three of the owners, Joseph Mortarulo, Michael Brennan and John Brandli, grew up in Scotch Plains and opened Darby Road to bring “the public a great new option for dining and socializing for years to come.”  They intend it to be a community center as well as a watering hole for town residents interested in good food and conversation with friends and family.
While the menu includes many typical Irish pub dishes, such as shepherd’s pie topped with mashed potatoes, it includes unique choices such as Irish tacos, an interesting spin on a classic Mexican meal with ground beef and lamb.  The entrees also feature such classic Southern American options as  the fried chicken and waffles with sausage gravy and maple syrup.
Sophomore Cole Weber ordered the Jersey Burger, an established favorite at Darby Road that is topped with a fried egg, Taylor ham and cheese.
“It was one of the best burgers I have had in a while,” said Weber.
After fixing minor issues that come with opening a restaurant, such as solving the problem of the noisy atmosphere, Darby Road will be an exceptional dining option for residents of    Scotch Plains.
The service is prompt, the workers are polite and the food is cooked well and reasonably priced. For example, the sea scallops are a mere $11, while a pretzel cheddar appetizer is $6.  The house specialty is the onion soup dumplings: caramelized onions in a wonton wrapper cooked in an onion  broth.
Darby Road, a restaurant with reverence for the history of Scotch Plains, may be in the process of making its own mark on the area.